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#170282 - 10/30/07 06:55 PM apartment service problem
sparky806 Offline

Registered: 12/07/02
Posts: 59
Loc: Shawnee, KS, USA
Hello, I was called out to a 26 unit apartment building for a complaint of appliances catching on fire in 1 unit. I met the fire dept. on site. At that time nothing could be found wrong electricly. All conections were checked and tightned in meters and in the affected apartment. POCO was on site and all voltages checked out good on both ends. It was decided to be a loose nuetral in the apt. sub panel.

3 days later I get the same call, but on a building wide scale. 13 of the 26 units having the same problem. I have now found half of my nuetral current to be on the GEC, indicating an open nuetral. Again brought in the POCO. The building has 2 800amp 1p services. Both have the same problem. We have megged the underground from poco transformer to meters. No problems found. Thermal camera used to check underground for hot spots. None found. We ran a temp nuetral from transformer to service and still had the same problem. I dismantled the meter banks, checked and tightend everything. Still have same problem.

What is really getting me on this is that my voltages have never been bad like you would see with an open or bad nuetral. Tomorrow I am planning on putting my recorder on the service for most of the day. While there, we will check all sub panels in each unit.

I am at a loss as to why I have good voltage but have current on the ground. Any body had this problem before?
Thanks, Richard

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#170284 - 10/30/07 07:01 PM Re: apartment service problem [Re: sparky806]
Trumpy Offline


Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8532
Loc: SI,New Zealand
I would suspect on the face of things a problem with the PoCo transformer, the likes of an intermittent HV/LV short maybe?
Has the transformer been checked over at all?.
This does sound strange.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#170286 - 10/30/07 07:19 PM Re: apartment service problem [Re: Trumpy]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant

Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Had the same dilemma ... until I was at the panel one time when it actually occurred. Intermittent problems can be SO frustrating.

In my case, the trouble was traced to a bad neutral splice at the transformer. Under the tape, things were going bad ... one minute a good connection, one minute a bad one.

#170292 - 10/30/07 07:49 PM Re: apartment service problem [Re: Trumpy]
JoeTestingEngr Offline

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 786
Loc: Chicago, Il.
Considering you should have zero neutral current on your ground, you need to look for a bonding jumper in a sub panel that doesn't belong, or a neutral to pipe nick, that sort of thing. Maybe a ground landed on a neutral bus. I know that you really meant that seeing half the current on the ground meant that it showed roughly the same impedance as a return path and thusly shared the current equally. So if you can work your way away from the source with a clamp-on on the ground and see the current drop to what should be zero fault current, you know the neutral to ground oops is behind you.

Edited by JoeTestingEngr (10/30/07 07:54 PM)
Edit Reason: changed my landing direction

#170294 - 10/30/07 07:55 PM Re: apartment service problem [Re: renosteinke]
leland Offline

Registered: 08/20/07
Posts: 856
Loc: Lowell area, Ma. USA
*The building has 2 800amp 1p services*
*13 of the 26 units *
*I have now found half of my nuetral current to be on the GEC*

Paralell feeds? More than a coinceidence.
I lean towards the POCO.
It appears Half the units have the problem, That may indicate 1 (POCO) neutral is bad (loose).

#170307 - 10/31/07 07:28 AM Re: apartment service problem [Re: leland]
sabrown Offline

Registered: 12/12/02
Posts: 297
Loc: Ogden, Utah, USA
Like Reno I had one of these and the problem was a bad nuetral splice at the transformer.

#170309 - 10/31/07 08:52 AM Re: apartment service problem [Re: sabrown]
livetoride Offline

Registered: 01/11/05
Posts: 109
Loc: san diego ca usa
Ditto bad splice at the xformer. Rod

#170312 - 10/31/07 09:29 AM Re: apartment service problem [Re: livetoride]
michaelpwalton1 Offline
New Member

Registered: 08/21/07
Posts: 6
Loc: PA
I had a simular problem with PECO in PA.(no fire) They had three different crews check out the transformer, before one found the problem with their neutral connection.(under the tape)
It is like anything else, it all depends on how much effort the utility crew is willing to put into their job.

#170323 - 10/31/07 02:20 PM Re: apartment service problem [Re: michaelpwalton1]
circuit man Offline

Registered: 11/05/01
Posts: 287
Loc: saluda,s.c.
i had a similar problem at a friends house turn on the lights in the kitchen & they looked liked like spot lights. called power company out they cleaned neutral atb pole , then all was fine so we thought.come home about 12 that night & notice security light not burning.go in the house turn on lights in kitchen ,look like spot lights power company again.they check things at meterbase & get 240 too neutral. get in bucket truck & check at pot ^ find same thing,now mind ya this is 2 a.m. in the morning. they finally find that the neutral connection inside the pot is bad. replace pot with a new one cut it back on ,security light comes back on, voltage is back to normal. they also pay for his appliances that were burnt out due to the overvoltage.pot is sent too scrap yard!does these apartments have two seperate pots or pad mounts? if there 800 amps each i would guess there would be 2.

#170356 - 11/01/07 11:09 AM Re: apartment service problem [Re: circuit man]
earlydean Offline

Registered: 12/22/03
Posts: 749
Loc: Griswold, CT, USA
This guy said he has no bad voltages. The neutral connections are therefore OK. Like Joe said, he has paralleled the neutral with the equipment ground.

Look for a connection from neutral to ground somewhere other than at the service. Probably one or all of the subpanels. The neutrals and grounds should all be separated, never to touch, except at the service.


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